Tweets from ME Workers’ Comp Board ED Sighnolfi LCRED Legislative Committee Hearing (PT 1)

Posted on April 2, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

The LCRED committee today questioned Workers’ Comp Board ED Paul Sighnolfi on his removal of an impartial hearing officer from cases involving the New Page mill after management at the New Page mill complained to Sighnolfi. This was an unprecedented move, unilaterally decided and made without the notice or input from the WC Board, nor was the hearing officer allowed to speak with Sighnolfi before the decision was made.
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Maine’s workers comp board chief before the Labor Committee now for questioning regarding this story:  

 

Workers comp board chief: Testimony today will be identical to March 11 board meeting except one thing. ‘I made a mistake.’

 

Comp chief, Sighinolfi, says he was ‘blindsided’ at March 11 board meeting. 

 

Sighinolfi: No glaring problem with removed hearing officer’s decisions. 

 

Sighinolfi apologizes to dismissed hearing officers. ‘He’s taken a beating recently.’ 

 

Workers comp chief Paul Sighinolfi says there are no rules or statutes that dictate cases hearings officers are assigned. 

 

Sighinolfi said only comms with LePage admin was to notify senior staff that NewPage comp claims issue had been ‘resolved’ 

 

Sighinolfi trying to cast aspersions on Patrick, saying he’s withheld names of anonymous complaints re: NewPage cases. 

 

GOP lawmakers criticizing Sen. Patrick for not giving info ahead of time and for already having said Sighinolfi should resign. 

 

Rep. Lockman says Patrick already called for director’s resignation. 

 

Background on the workers comp flap being discussed now in Maine Legislature labor committee:  

 

Sighinolfi: Inordinate number of dismissals involving NewPage, says the claims don’t have merit. 

 

Sighinolfi blames not  for making same determination that many complaints from NewPage employees don’t have merit 

Sighiolfi says number of cases against NewPage are because of attornies filing claims that have “no legs,” not problems at mill 

 

Sighiolfi says number of cases against NewPage are because of attornies filing claims that have “no legs,” not problems at mill 

 

Sighinolfi blames not  for making same determination that many complaints from NewPage employees don’t have merit 

 Gotta love the shoutout. 

 

Correx: Sighinolfi blames  for not determining inordinate # NewPage employee injury complaints don’t have merit 

 

Sighinolfi shows lawyer chops: “I don’t understand the question” … “What do you mean by ‘significantly?'” Patrick frustrated. 

 

Herbig: I don’t understand why you made these changes if there were no problems with the decisions on NewPage cases. 

 

RT : Workers comp chief Paul Sighinolfi says there are no rules or statutes that dictate cases hearings officers are assigned

 

Sighinolfi says he’d be “reticent now,” but he’d probably make the same decision if another company made a similar complaint. 

 

Patrick is getting frustrated. Not allowing Rep. Volk to ask follow-up questions. “The meeting is run through the chair.” 

 

Shorter Sighinolfi: No problem w/hearing officer decisions, who actually dismissed a lot of meritless complaints 

 

 is livetweeting from the labor committee’s hearing about the comp board’s chief.  

 

  Successful FOAA yet of Sighinolfi, Butera, Winglass, Gervais, Pelletier mentioned email? Link? 

 

Sighinolfi: I’m responsible for day-to-day decisions. This was a day-to-day decision. Board need not be involved. 

 

Patrick is pressing the point, saying the statute does not allow executive director to make unilateral assignment decisions. 

 

Sighinolfi takes a jab at Sen. Patrick: “The lawyer who prepared your questions did a good job.” 

 

 LePage admin acknowledged those participants. It’s in the first story.

 

Cushing to Patrick: “if you want to go fishing, should make sure there are fish in the pond” 

 

Larry Lockman just left the meeting. “This is a politically motivated witchhunt, and I’ll have nothing more to do with it.” 

Lockman to Patrick: This is a politically motivated witch hunt. Not going to have a part of it. He walks out. 

 

Lochman walks out. not curious about secret decision making by Workers Comp Director 

 

Other GOP lawmakers criticizing Patrick for not letting them ask questions, deferring to Democrats. This thing is getting messy 

 

Some good  theater going on in legislative committee re: worker’s comp director. Follow  for the play by play.

WALK OUT: Lockman: “this is a political witch hunt and I’m not going to take part. Have a nice day” 

 

Patrick and Dems are clearly running a kangaroo court in LCRED. 

 

Sighinolfi only put the questioned hearings officer back on NewPage cases after the change went public. Says “he forgot.” 

 

  And listen here  

 

Duprey to Patrick: “You want [sighinolfi] to be truthful but you’re not reciprocating” 

Sighinolfi says he won’t end rotation of NewPage cases because “it’s working.” But only NewPage gets the rotation.  

 

 Indeed. Apparently  should be workers comp claims adjudicators, which is to say, lawyers.

 

 We shall all endeavor to do better, I’m sure.

 

Sighinolfi: I removed the hearing officer for no reason and then forgot to put him back in rotation. 

 

Sighinolfi says NewPage has gotten special rotation because it’s the only one that complained. If others complained, he’d do the same.

 

Sighnolfi made unilateral decision to tamper with impartial system of justice. Pick your own judge 

 

Sighinolfi Blames press for shining light on secret decisions he made. 

 

Sighinolfi says press attention is more damaging to system than his decision to remove hearings officer at company’s behest. 

 

Sighinolfi says  cov of h.o. removal damaged rep of hearing officer. Doesn’t mention his suggestion to contact him 

 

Follow   . Great coverage of Workers Comp Director trying to justify actions in favor of one corporation

 

if an injured worker felt unfairly treated would Sighinolfi care as much about perception? Pick your own judge 

 

 mics are picking up phone buzzes Are members receiving text messages during hearing? 

 

“Perception” only matters when others know about it. Secret decisions ok accdg to Sighinolfi. 

 

Sighinolfi says he knows what he did wasn’t wrong because no one complained. But no one knew about the change so how could they? 

 

Sighinolfi: “Hid in plain sight” is a self-proclaimed “private mtg” with mill admin and LePage officials. 

 

Sighinolfi’s seat has gotten a lot hotter since people other than Patrick started asking Qs. Maybe he’s just too close to this. 

 

Patrick to Sighinolfi: If this issue came to comp board, you had ability to get what you wanted (Sig is swing vote) & in public 

 

Patrick: Injured worker not a consideration in this decision. If they’re getting better for NP, who are they getting worse for? 

 

Patrick: injured workers didn’t have a seat @ the table. Only management. (And LePage officials)

Patrick notes NewPage says situation with workers comp is better now. “If they’re better for NewPage, who are they worse for?”

Mastraccio: you say there’s no prob yet you (Sighinolfi) made a (unilateral, secret) change.

 

Dems Ensuring a fair, impartial justice system is “political theater” accdg to some GOPers. Wonder what injured workers think.

Transparency is easy but remembering secret events from 2 years ago is hard.

 

 

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